Widening Conversational Scope: A Preamble

In the articles A Community of Rewilding Means Adults Maintaining Accord, and When the State Assigns Blame, I started a line of inquiry I want to continue here. Using the examples of the Gypsy Roma, as studied by the essayists in Gypsy Law, edited by Walter Weyrauch, I saw that an intact, relatively animist, tribal people successfully retained their identity and cultural vitality amidst the constant daily horrors of civilization’s growth economy. How do they keep their connection to Family, to Tribe, in the face of the commodifying machine who sees them as yet unapportioned human resources?

I have identified a contributing factor to this survival (and thrival!), in the kris romaniya. The kris works as a community hearing in which respected and experienced folk ‘judges’, after hearing wide-ranging testimony, essentially brainstorm a resolution that their community will support. The judgement has no other enforcement than the willingness and social pressure of the community itself, hence the importance of experienced and wise judges who can find these kinds of resolutions.

At the kris romaniya, participants can speak (according to Gypsy Law, also known as the romaniya) only in Romany, the Roma language related to Sanskrit. The audience and community will shout down any use of English. Pay attention to this: the kris has narrowed scope here. If you cannot speak Romany, the laws do not apply to you, and yet you also cannot apply to the laws. No non-Roma can attend a kris.

The Roma in fact accommodate the legal system of the state as best they can, for crimes between Gypsies and non-Gypsies. They also have a fair amount of cultural skepticism toward’s the state’s legal system, not seeming to particularly expect fairness or benefits from engaging it. They probably see it more as a natural predator, or a storm, a force which they must accomodate and adroitly bystep to survive, but one which they cannot ‘stop’ or ask for fair treatment as they would from a Roma. They simply  adapt.

I say all of this so we can get to the meaty bits, namely: how the community and the krisnatori (folk judges) use the kris to accomplish all kinds of goals, goals that a court of the state (say, an average American court of law) would find way beyond their scope.

Written by Willem